Bob Custer, cowboy star of the 1920s and '30s, fights rustlers and saves the heroine from a Fate Worse Than Death in this typical B western from the last days of the silent era. Directed and co-starring J.P. McGowan, sadly overlooked personality who was actively involved in movies from their daqwn until his death in the '50s.
This film was made with the infamous "sepia tone" film process and is a splendid example. Sepia is a brownish-ochre dye derived from fish. Sepia movie prints, not unlike the still photographic paper prints of the 19th century, were considerably less expensive to produce than the standard "black and white" process using strictly silver nitrate (silver oxide treated with nitric acid) to produce the image. These days, the process is considerably more expensive than B&W but is still available.
I thought that the movie was wonderful escapist entertainment! It was formula for its day, but is a cut above most made at the time. Like most old movies, you have to keep perspective of the times.
July 27, 2005 Subject:
Rousing Silent Western with Musical Track
This is an excellant print! I don't know wether it faded Brown from Black and White as old film is wont to do or wether it was actually developed on peach colored stock film and/or tinted, but it is a super sharp, unbroken print and very watchable.
First, I'm a Bob Custer fan, and he's first rate here but not a lot to do but be the hero. Second, Jack Ponder playes the most effete side-kick before Sterling Holloway came along with Gene Autry post WW II. The Villians, J.P. McGowan as "Hicks", also the director, gets the most time on screen. He really quite good. Sort of a Richard Alexander/Bald Billy Bob Thornton looking character playing the rough neck lead rustler. Mack Wright as "Blackie", also wrote the script. McGowan and Wright would have long careers behind the cameras for many years. They did professional work and that shows through, even on a super cheap little western as this. A word about the musical background. Somebody somewhere decided to score this film with what sounds like generic RKO Radio music dept. music to me. They got it about half right. I recommend this with reservations, unless you're a film student or a westerns buff. They, of course, will love it.